Health officials see busy hospitals, but less deaths during Omicron surge

Emergency rooms on Long Island and across the country are being strained due to the rise in COVID cases, but doctors say there are fewer COVID-related deaths.
More people are being hospitalized for COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic in the U.S. as the Omicron variant rages.
Dr. Salvatore Pardo, chair of the emergency department at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, says they've gone from a low of 11 patients testing positive for COVID to nearly 100 people in the hospital positive with COVID.
He says the coronavirus has also caused around 5% of their work staff to be taken out of service.
"The hours are long because you see more patients, you're always running, you're always trying to help everyone," says Paola Rojas, an emergency nursing technician at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream.
She says the surge is hectic but feels different than earlier ones.
Rohas says the first surge was very traumatic because everyone was dying, but she hasn't seen a lot of death with the Omicron surge.
Doctors say there have been fewer COVID-related deaths because more people are vaccinated now.
Hospital officials say people are coming to the emergency department with slight cold or flu-like symptoms hoping to get tested for COVID.
Doctors say coming to the emergency department for a test or for mild symptoms is not the best idea.
"If you feel you're in danger, at risk or feeling that you need to stay in the hospital, that's a good reason to come to the emergency department," Pardo says. "An inappropriate reason to come to an emergency department is for testing."
Pardo says a decrease in Omicron cases is in sight in the coming weeks.